Iranian and EU leaders meet as U.S. sanctions loom

With U.S. sanctions on Iran set to take effect again next month, Iranian and European leaders met Friday to seek agreement on they can minimize the sanctions' harms to Iran's economy.
By Rick Docksai | Jul 07, 2018
Efforts to salvage the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran got under way in Vienna on Friday, when Iranian and European leaders talked for three hours about how to work around the newly restored U.S. sanctions on Iran. The meeting's participants ended the meeting with no major breakthroughs, but said that they will strive to finalize some commitments before the sanctions take effect next month.

"We've made some progress, including on safeguarding some crude (oil) sales, but it's unlikely to meet Iranian expectations. It's also not just about what the Europeans can do, but also how the Chinese, Russians, Indians, others can contribute," said a senior European diplomat.

Oil sales and all other international business with Iran are now on precarious ground, due to President Trump's abandonment of the Iran nuclear accord earlier this year. The accord had removed longstanding U.S.-led sanctions in return for a verifiable dismantling of Iran's nuclear-weapons program.

 

The restored sanctions leave Iran with no financial incentive to maintain the accord. They also threaten to torpedo Iran's economy, as Washington is pressuring businesses to leave Iran and warning Iran's trading partners that they must stop importing Iranian oil by November 4, or else face financial consequences.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned earlier this week that Iran may reduce its co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, as a result.

The Friday meeting sought agreement on how world powers might compensate Iran for the lost business and oil profits. Iranian leaders demand assurances that their oil will still sell, and that Iran still has access to international bank payment systems. EU leaders seek provisions for lending to Iran, and protecting European companies doing business with Iran from U.S. sanctions, along with a proposal that EU governments make direct money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid U.S. penalties.

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